Given the strong financial performance, the Board has considered the Group's dividend policy, and in particular the optimal balance between allocating surplus funds to the payment of ordinary and special dividends or share buybacks. This is in the context that, at the time of the announcement of the termination of the merger agreement with Playtech plc, the Board declared an interim dividend and announced its intention to put in place a programme to buyback up to $20 million of the Company's shares depending on market conditions, share price, trading volume and other factors. However, given the increase in the share price since the termination of the merger agreement the buyback option has not been activated. The Board will consider whether there is a need for buybacks in the future and has the power to implement them at short notice.
The Board has concluded that it is in shareholders' best interests to distribute 100% of 2015 net profits ($96.6m) and therefore to propose a final dividend in respect of 2015 together with an additional distribution by way of a special dividend.
The Board is therefore pleased to declare a final dividend for the year ended 31 December 2015 of $0.2922 per share (final dividend 2014: $0.3001 per share), with an ex-dividend date of 24 March 2016, a record date of 29 March 2016 and a payment date of 11 May 2016. Including the interim dividend in respect of the six month period to June 2015 of $0.2121 per share, this makes a total dividend for the year of $0.5043 per share (total dividend for 2014: $0.5351 per share). This equates to a total dividend pay-out of $58 million or 60% of net profit for the year, in line with the Company's stated policy.
In addition to the above, the Board has declared a special dividend of $0.3362 per share (special dividend 2014: $0.2657 per share) amounting to a payout of $38.6 million (FY 2014: $30.5 million). The ex-dividend, record and payment dates of this special dividend will be as for the final dividend noted above.
The resulting total distribution to shareholders for the full year will therefore be $0.8405 per share (FY 2014: $0.8008 per share) amounting to a payout of $96.6 million (FY 2014: $92 million). The equivalent amount stated in GBP is £66.1 million (FY 2014: £60 million) an increase of 10%.
Total dividends to shareholders including those declared today in the three year period since flotation will be $229.6 million, which exceeds the market capitalisation at flotation of $200 million, and equates to a dividend per share of 132 pence per share (compared to the flotation price of 115 pence).